Monday, June 30, 2008

Love is in the air...

Or at least lust. Every mare on the property seemed to be in heat tonight and all of the boys had definitely noticed!

I started off with Honey. Honey was in raging heat and this had the side effect of rendering her obnoxiously herd bound. Oh my heavens, what was I thinking trying to take her away from her friends? She screamed and pranced and generally acted like a particularly rank youngster in the post parade.

"You are EIGHT YEARS OLD," I reminded her. "Walk like a lady!"

I put her in the round pen, where she bucked and farted and ran around while I finished my chores. She was still on the alert when I came out. You know that Thoroughbred mare mood where they are just ridiculously twitchy all over? Antsy, twitchy, peeing, pooping (how does that much poop come out of one horse? She just kept doing the nervous pooping tonight.) , couldn't stand. Got an elbow in the ribs more than once as I brushed her up and she forgot I was there and barged over. She didn't seem to notice.

(This mare would make a great polo pony. Truly. Karen, any interest in polo? 'Cause I'm telling you, that is Honey's niche. I can just see her bumping. Would not faze her a bit! )

Tacked her up and did a little work teaching the backup on the ground to start. She catches on really quickly. Then I let her trot around loose and do her signature move where she throws her head and neck all over like she is a real bad ass, had her canter a bit til I was sure the edge was off and then climbed on. She was really very good. I was expecting worse given her overall mood, but once on, she was about the same as usual. We continued to work on bending to the right (the left bend, unsurprisingly, is fine) and halting and backing a few steps. I saw the first hints of a really free back a time or two tonight, but she's still resistant. She will get it. She is just figuring it out.

I had started turning her toward the wall to start teaching the pivot last time and this time she really caught on and started doing a true rollback at the walk. I was really surprised and pleased and she got major petting and praise for that. This mare is so light on her feet when she wants to be. When we get the cues installed, she is going to be a sports car to ride. The other really nice thing about her is she has no problem at all walking on a loose, dropped rein. Sometimes that is a real challenge for OTTB's but this one gets that a loose rein means just relax and walk with your head low, and that is exactly what she does. What a good girl!

Hosed her off, put her back out with the girls (she still had enough energy that I had to growl at her to walk back to the other mares) and grabbed the VLC. I figured it would be a valuable learning experience as there were mares in heat behind another fence not ten feet from the round pen. Time to see if Mr. VLC can think with the upstairs head!

Tonight I just ended up doing ground work with him. I put a little different bit on him - a copper mouth D ring that's quite a bit thicker than the loose ring snaffle I was riding him in. He definitely preferred that and there was a lot less of the "OMG you are killing me" face. (I have a friend who is going to loan me her happy mouth french link so I am betting he will really like that!) I knotted the reins loosely to the horn so that the only time they made contact is when he tried to trot with his nose on the ground - his usual reaction to riding in a bit. I let him trot around and figure out that the only place his head couldn't be was lower than his knees.

I've mentioned before that our round pen is a little deep. Not dangerously so, but deep enough that it's a pretty good workout for them. He wanted to talk to the girls, truly he did, but after the second round, he realized he didn't have the wind to both whinny and trot, and Mean Mom was going to make him keep jogging. He gave up. He completely ignored them after that, and I mean, one of them was backed up butt first to the fenceline. What a good VLC! I'm guessing that pasture full of conveniently located slutty ex-broodmares is going to be one of the best training tools ever.

Ran out of time and energy and did not address the SSBG (new name. Now he's the Small Spotted Bucking Gelding) tonight but we'll get to that later this week. My hand's still healing up and I think I might want to have both of them in working order for the next ride!

Funniest part of the evening: I have been turning my ancient mare, Clover, out in the "hallway" between our two lines of pastures overnight so she can gum some grass and enjoy some freedom. Tonight, we heard major squealing coming from the direction of the "boy" pasture (mixed stallions and geldings). Josie thought a stallion was flirting with Clover, and headed off to check it out. Nope. It was her Appy gelding, and yes...he was in loooove. The two of them mooned at each other over the fence line for quite some time before she gave up and headed off in search of more grass. I am sure he was heartbroken.

Sorry about the lack of pictures. I know, it's become a boring blog. Going to try to get more soon!


Josie said...

OK, since I was there, my only comment is how excited I am that you spelled "faze" correctly. That means there are now two of us! (Major spelling geek pet peeve...)

Kim said...

Yep, I bet those slutty old broodmares will make great tools in training the VLC to have more self control. BTW when will the VLC be considered the VLS? when he sires babies or when he turns 4? because he's already sired some foals! like Bullwinkle! lol.

And what will VLS stand for Very Large Stallion? or Very Large Stud? lol

Josie said...

Very Large Sweetie-pie, probably! :)

amarygma said...

Where I took lessons, there was one couple that pastured together (gelding and mare) and he was in Looooove with her. If she was being used for a lesson, he would wait at the gate and call and call and call. Nevermind the other 10 mares in the pasture, she was HIS.
Poor Lester.

mugwump said...

Just a thought on the head down thing- I have always let them put their head as far down as they want, (while I'm on them) I felt like it was a good stretch, and a baby attempt to drive with their back up.
I've had some that will lope around trailing their nose in the dirt.
I encourage them by throwing out as much rein as they need.
It's a little freakish at first, but it seems to help them organize their stride.
As they strengthen and begin to collect, the head comes back up.
I can imagine how fun that would be the first time you're tooling around on the nose trailing VLC, and he throws his head up to scream at those slutty old broads....:)

ariemay said...

I love my french link -- I bet VLC will love his too!

BritnieAnn said...

VLC is my horsie hero! What a great guy, I bet you can already see your dreams coming true with him, and YES we need more pics!!

Karen V said...

Uhmmmm...NO! No polo!

And yes, love IS in the air! Joy is in heat also! The brazen hussy!

quietann said...

Feronia's going back to the dressage barn where I first boarded her, this time for some serious training (OMG my poor bank balance!) She will likely be the only mare, with 16 or 17 geldings and 1 stallion, and all of them in luurrrrvvvv with her except the stallion (he's weird that way.) She still finds most geldings to be scary... don't ask!

BTW the other horse I ride also goes with his nose on or near the ground during his warmup. He's slow so I jokingly call that his "cow pony time." It was scary at first, especially at the canter, but he's a steady old guy and he really needs his stretches before he can work effectively.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>BTW when will the VLC be considered the VLS? when he sires babies or when he turns 4?<<

When he turns 4. Like Josie with phase/faze), it's a pet peeve of mine when people call two and three year olds males stallions or two and three year old females mares. They're colts and fillies until they're four. (Unless of course they're geldings, and then they're geldings immediately. There's no term for junior gelding.) Didn't we all learn that by reading horse books when we were little kids?

(And, another pet peeve, every baby is NOT a COLT!)

Mugwump, I just can't get his head UP in the bit. Every time I've ever tried to ride with the reins connected to the bit, he nearly trips over his own nose. I do the normal thing and put leg on him and try to get him to move forward and therefore pick up his head. No dice. He peanut-rolls along like someone showed him a video of some Zippo bred critter from 1991. He rides great in the halter but sheesh I cannot quite get away with the halter/reins combo in the show ring, LOL!

I am excited to try the Happy Mouth. My friend has actually added layers of extra taste by putting toothpaste on it, so it is pepperminty, for her fussy boy. Since the VLC loves peppermints more than life itself, that may convince him that having something in his mouth is not such a bad thing.

Speaking of the VLC's previous attempts at procreation, while I think I have a new home for Bullwinkle, the bay filly by the VLC and her dam need a new home in the near future. The mare is 15.2 or 15.3, bay, big built, clean legged, green u/s but nonviolent
(i.e. you can get on her bareback and ride her all around - haven't tried tack but I mean to do that soon), no vices, HYPP negative. The filly is bay, super pretty and looks like she will be a hunt seat type. $1500 the pair, e-mail me if you are interested. Of course I'd be happy to put more riding time on the mare. Again, this is south of Seattle.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

P.S. For the slow folks who occasionally read this blog and are dying to accuse me of not practicing what I preach and breeding my colt before he has a show record, I did not breed the VLC. I have only owned him since March of this year. :-)

Crazy3dayer said...

Well I know this is about HORSES training but I rode for AN HOUR!!!!! No sweating, no shakes, no heart flutters. I rode Jack (Appx QH) while his owner was out of town. I took my friend and dog out and we just did trails. It's on a lake and Jack was not keen on the wave motion or lapping noise. He doesn't understand what a motor boat is either, so when he got antsy I just remembered to breath deep and let him "look" once I got some sort of relaxation out of him I let him move off. We did some trails and he's not very confident in the trees so I just let him sort of amble (on high alert of course) but all in all everyone lived, no one threw up and Jack didn't care when my friend and the dog came over the hill. My friend was singing "The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music" I actually joined her before I realized what I was doing. Very excited that there was no drama. I'm sore and going to work on my muscles but it was fun. It's been a long time since I could say I had fun on a horse. it's nice to feel that way again.

a beautiful disaster said...

i know that buddy loves his french link and the slm adores her happy mouth loose-ring mullen, i hope the bit works for the vlc. the thing is though, i don't think that my happy mouth smells or tastes like apple (yeah, we licked it before we put it on her). is mine just weird?

Karen V said...

ps....I REALLY miss my Honeybear!!!

CutNJump said...

My mare with bridle issues loves and goes well in the french link we bought for her. Everyone else is in a D-ring, an eggbutt or an offset D-ring. Ihave a couple of pelhams one with a broken mouthpiece one with a straight bar. They currently decorate the tack room on the horse trailer or keep my spurs company in the small gear bag.

Char said...

You may want to consider a mullen mouth or some sort of leverage bit, such as a kimberwick or pelham.

My Hollywood Gold bred gelding HATES snaffles of ANY type.

I know how most of you english people are about using NOTHING more than a snaffle in the mouth, but some horses cannot stand even the mildest egg-butt snaffle nutcracker action.

Light, even pressure straight on the bars of his mouth with a leverage bit - fine.

Pinch the sids of his mouth with a snaffle bit and he'll drop you like a bad habit. Even combining the snaffle/curb action with double reins works wonders on him.

Just don't put in a regular snaffle. Then HE gives ME the look!

which_chick said...

I had a do-nothing day with PH (but we rode on Saturday and we rode more on Sunday, including two intentional bouts of cantering) so I got her out of the field and fed her grain and we worked on being a better trotter in-hand (for competitive trail trot-outs) and that was that.

Idiotic Spotted Pony got ridden extensively on Sunday (We did a solo outing, w/t/c, six miles or so, mostly along quiet back roads. She did a good job.) and today we did Introduction To Driving because I want to try teaching a horse to drive. The ISP is not reactive, hot-tempered, or explosive. She's a good candidate, even-tempered and a bit laid-back.

So, today I saddled her up and ran lines from the bit through the (run-up) stirrups and then a couple of feet behind her butt (she does not kick) to where I was standing. I clicked to get her to go forward. I did forward and halt and some very minimal steering and trot/walk transitions. All of that went pretty well once she was convinced that, yes, I was back there and yes, she did have to listen to me even though she could not SEE me particularly well. We did twenty minutes of very basic, very sedate ground-driving practice. At the end, we managed some REALLY GOOD HALTS (with actual standing!!) and I now have a pony that ground drives in easy conditions, halt/walk/trot/back, turn left and right. (She did all this stuff under saddle before we started with the ground driving thing.) I will, obviously, review this early and often, but it's a start.

On the way home, I borrowed the part of a pony harness with the rings that the reins go through (the saddle? with turrets?) and the reins for it from a friend so that I can practice the whole ground-driving thing more thoroughly. If that goes well, I think I'll be able to borrow an entire pony-sized harness for extended loan -- owner of same used to drive ponies, has since switched to drafts.

This still doesn't get me a cart, but there is a lot I have to do before we're cart-ready anyway. No hurry on the cart. I can practice dragging other stuff first -- a dead tire, a wooden pallet, some poles, all kinds of stuff. It'll be fun.

mugwump said...

fugs- Do you ever ride him with the bit in his mouth, the halter over, and ride him with the halter? Just let him carry the bit?
I'm telling you, let him drag that nose in the dirt, as he gains balance and drive it will turn into a beautiful, natural, level, point earning dream....I swear his nose will come up, really!
Wait until your loping him like that, it'll be like he's headless.

robyn said...

No, definitely not boring! =D

The VLC just might like the french link fine. I tried a bunch of different bits recently (borrowed from my trainer) to see what my Icepony would prefer. I thought he'd like the french link, but he HATED it! He was happiest in a regular eggbutt snaffle, 4 3/4". He didn't like the loose-ring either. However, I tried the french link on my TWH--he's been in a Monte Foreman Pelham, hates a regular single joint snaffle. (Come to find out that he has a pretty low palate.) Anyway, he mouthed that french link about 3 times and then his mouth was quiet and happy for the rest of the ride! I've never seen him so happy w/ a bit! I've tried a Dr. Cook's bitless (didn't like it), eggbutt snaffle, med thickness (nope), the Monte Foreman (on a well-known natural gaited trainer's advice--he thought it was *okay*), but it was the french link that has really agreed w/ him.

robyn said...

Josie, three of us. I hate it when people say "my horse wasn't *phased* by anything." Duh. Just like "it's a *mute* point."

My husband just said (in response to me using the word "phase" incorrectly) "what is this, Star Trek?" yuk yuk!


mugwump said...

Monte Foreman Pelham? Where'd you dig that up?
I thought I had the only one left, and it dates from the 70's....

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>fugs- Do you ever ride him with the bit in his mouth, the halter over, and ride him with the halter? Just let him carry the bit?<<

Yeah, I've actually done that quite a lot. He makes a lot of faces, turns his head sideways, etc. Drama queen.

I admit, dragging his nose in the dirt makes me nervous. Our arena is not the most level surface in the world, and he has tripped in the past. I am super paranoid about horses falling with me.

I need to get the happy mouth french link and see if he likes that. I'm open to experimenting...I am not one of those english people who believes snaffles are the only way to go. I will say that I had a french link full cheek years ago that everything went well in...I loved that bit. That was what I put on the polo pony who was normally ridden in a hartwell pelham with draw reins (her polo set-up) when I took her to the hunter shows, and yes, I could still stop!

Karen V said...

Are bosals allowed in shows? With me being show-stupid , I don't know the rules, but I've seen "Champion" photos of horses wearing bosals...

Peggy Archer said...

I've never met a horse that didn't like the French Link bit.

verylargecolt said...

Bosals are allowed for 4 year olds and under in western classes.

However, I am the first to admit I've never had extensive experience riding in them. I've done it a bit but there's a whole art to riding in a bosal that I haven't been trained on, and I'd really want to take lessons from someone good before I used one again.

Also, no way can you use them hunt seat. ;-)

robyn said...

Mugwump, I went to a Lee Ziegler clinic about 6 years ago, and she recommended that I try it for my TWH. She had one there that we put on him and he went better in it. At least I got something from that clinic. Lee might have known her stuff re: gaited horses but she was a royal bitch to have a lesson with.